Over 161,000 cases pending in DRTs: finance ministry

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New Delhi: Debt recovery tribunals (DRTs) in the country have over 161,000 cases pending for adjudication as on 28 February, finance ministry informed Lok Sabha on Monday, highlighting the backlog of debt recovery cases.

The ministry said the 39 DRTs in the country have in the year 2018-19 disposed of 24,140 cases and recovered 12,861 crores. In FY19, 5,772 cases were disposed of recovering 6895 crores.

In the pandemic years of FY21 and FY22, the tribunals adjudicated on matters. They have cleared 4,331 cases in FY21 recovering 4,464 crores and 4,830 cases in FY22 up to December, recovering 11,957 crores, the ministry said in a written reply to a question.

As per law, an application made to the tribunal is to be dealt with as expeditiously as possible and every effort is be made by the tribunal to complete the proceedings in two hearings, and to dispose of the application finally within 180 days from the date of receipt of the application, the ministry said.

The backlog in debt recovery tribunals and the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) benches adjudicating bankruptcy cases is a challenge faced by creditors whose investments have turned sour. The government is keen to address the delays and is in the process of appointing more members on NCLT benches. In recent months, many experts have pointed out that lenders prefer to resolve the financial stress faced by companies outside bankruptcy tribunals as it would be quicker.

The ministry also said in reply to a separate question that the National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (NARCL) set up by banks to take over existing legacy stressed assets from various banks and financial institutions has already identified a set of 15 accounts, totalling 50,335 crore for takeover.

NARCL proposes to acquire stressed assets of about Rs. two trillion in phases. It has been set up by banks as an asset reconstruction company. State-run banks will maintain 51% ownership in NARCL. 

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